[Editor’s note: We asked Carl Guardino to write about how local leaders, including entrepreneurs can do to help with climate change. Carl has been speaking up about this issue, along with Seagate CEO Bill Watkins. Watkins co-authors this piece.]
When it comes to seemingly intractable issues like climate change, global warming and decreasing America’s dependence on foreign oil, we have a choice — we can be enraged or engaged.
A door hanger used by a recently elected San Jose City Council member and his supporters captures our choices well: “Mumble. Grumble. Complain. Whine. Hope. Yell. VOTE.” We can sit on the sidelines and be enraged, or get in the game and take action.
Fortunately, in Silicon Valley, we have long known that when it comes to enhancing our environment and improving our economy it is not an either-or choice; we can have it both ways. In our Valley and in California, we know that Green is Gold. The beauty of this idea is that entrepreneurs, startup CEOs and venture firms have the same opportunity as major company leaders to effect change.
Take Tom Hayse, for example. Tom is an engineer and the CEO of ETM, a small electronics firm in Fremont with just 100 employees. In 2005, ETM replaced its existing roof with a white urethane foam roof, applied over the heating and air conditioning ducting. The white reflective surface reduces the temperature of the roof by 50 percent or more. In addition, Hayse is launching a program to buy back up to ten light bulbs per employee in each of their homes and replace them with a compact fluorescent light. He calls it ETM’s “Thousand Bulbs of Light” program.
This is one of hundreds of examples taking hold in Silicon Valley today. Others are highlighted in a recent report by Sustainable Silicon Valley – a non-profit that the Leadership Group co-founded in 2003 to reduce regional carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. Yes, we were focused on climate change before climate change was cool.
So how can we engage individually, corporately and collectively? Three quick examples:
* Employers, government agencies and non-profit leaders: please join Sustainable Silicon Valley. It is a successful, proven model that works.
* Bay Area employers: join the Leadership Group’s new comprehensive initiative to be launched in December – our “Alternative Energy ‘Clean and Green’ Action Plan.” Eleven different initiatives cover transportation, housing, land use, energy and the environment. We are searching for CEO Champions on each of the initiatives as well as other community owners to ensure accountability and success.
* Finally, look inward to reduce your own carbon footprint. On May 17, Bike-To-Work-Day, we are organizing CEOs and Senior Executives all over Silicon Valley to encourage their own employees to participateâ€”even to pedal into work themselves. Nearly a dozen have already signed up. With four of ten Bay Area residents living within five miles of their jobs, we invite you to join us.
Please – join us. Let’s get our customers, competitors and employees involved as well. Don’t be enraged. Get engaged.